Rohingya refugees from Burma in a makeshift camp.

After nearly a week of delays, the United States Congress has passed legislation renewing the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act. House of Representatives bill 5986 and Senate bill 3326 both passed on August 2 and will serve to extend U.S. import sanctions on Burma for another year.

For months now, we have encouraged activists like you to contact your Senators and Representatives and urge them to support the renewal of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act (BFDA). This legislation became all the more crucial following the Obama Administrations announcement in July that the U.S. had begun the process of easing restrictions on investment in Burma. The renewal of the BFDA allows the United States to keep some pressure on the Burmese government as violence continues against ethnic nationals and the progress toward democracy is nascent.

While the passage of the bill marks an important achievement, President Obama still maintains the right to waive the import ban should the U.S. feel that the Burmese government has made sufficient progress toward resolving tensions with the ethnic minority states, inclusive and sustainable democratic reforms and respect for human rights. The Obama administration’s ability to waive key provisions of the bill will be something that we continue to track moving forward.

Last week, the vote was delayed by several Senators who had placed “holds” on the bill, preventing the import ban from being passed through a special expedited process before it expired on July 28. Adding to the pressure, the August recess was fast approaching. Had Congress failed to renew the import ban by the end of this week, it would have meant pushing the vote back until after Labor Day.

Human rights groups have continued to remind the U.S. government about the importance of continued pressure on Burma as violence against ethnic nationals continues in places like Kachin and Arakan States.

Thank you to all those who have taken action to ensure that these crucial sanctions can remain in place.


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  • Lucy De John

    Everyone deserves to be free

  • Christina Colbert

    While I would like to believe this is better than nothing … it’s all lip service. Larger scale investment and business with and in Burma by US owned oil companies continues to this day. Is there a financial cut off point as regards the adherence to sanctions? Anything over X million of dollars and sanctions don’t apply? As usual, when money is at stake humanitarian and altruist concerns fall by the wayside.

    What is happening in Burma today is pathetic and there seems little anyone can do. With all the ASEAN countries courting Burma for ongoing and future business interests and with Singapore and no doubt others, a haven for the ruling party’s funds, why should the ‘new democratic government of Myanmar’ waste any time entertaining any thoughts of human rights?

    I’m sure the scores of Rohingya in makeshift IDP camps, or those turned away when they sought refuge in Bangladesh and the UN national staff that are currently in Insein Prison and/or on trial for their apparent participation in the recent violence, are comforted by the fact that this legislation has been upheld.

    And how do you spell pathetic?


    I do not know what the sanctions are, but most sanctions only effect the poor and as eloquently stated by others, the big business (oil companies, Japanese, Chinese, Singaporean and other ASEAN interest groups are continuing to make business deals and holding the money of the rich in their Banks, so all the USA big talk is a gimmick. Can there not be a proposal for a high level “Think Tank” to be constituted with educated Burmese to examine concerns and propose solutions ( not only for the Rohingas, but for the suffering ethnic groups in Burma ( Myanmar) ?. RML

  • Andrea

    Thank you so much for all of the time and effort you have put forth to make this happen!!! May the LORD richly bless you and your work. Hopefully we can all send thank you letters to those who helped make this happen!?